Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 00:03 UK

Junior doctors attack NHS reforms

Junior doctors say they are not being treated with respect

Junior doctors will warn patient care could suffer as a result of NHS reforms as their annual conference takes place.

Ram Moorthy, chairman of the British Medical Association's Junior Doctor Committee, said his members remained angry about changes to their training.

And Mr Moorthy will accuse ministers of simply paying lip service to the profession's views and treating junior doctors as a nuisance.

The Department of Health said the role of doctors was "greatly valued".

Junior doctors feel that they are not viewed as dedicated professionals who embrace a difficult role
Mr Ram Moorthy
Junior Doctors Committee

Mr Moorthy said junior doctors were concerned about intensification of competition for training posts.

Latest figures for England indicate that 18,000 doctors have applied for around 8,800 posts, with competition ratios as high as 25 to one in some specialties.

Intensified competition

Mr Moorthy will warn that problems may lie ahead with this year's recruitment process following the chaos which surrounded implementation of reforms known as Modernising Medical Careers last year.

Training was revamped, with the aim of speeding up progress so juniors could reach consultant level in an average of 11 years, rather than the current 14.

But this resulted in more than 30,000 doctors applying for around 20,000 posts in 2007, a problem exacerbated by a flawed computerised application process.

Mr Moorthy will call for an end to reform for reform's sake, warning that the high quality of care currently enjoyed by patients in the UK was founded on a thorough training system for doctors, which should not be compromised.

As a first year junior doctor, I feel there is little respect for us and the job we do
Vimal Vyas, London

He will say: "Junior doctors feel that they are not viewed as dedicated professionals who embrace a difficult role, and make decisions of fundamental importance.

"They keep the service running, working anti-social hours, covering gaps in the rota, whilst always ensuring that patients receive the high quality care they deserve and expect.

"Instead junior doctors are made to feel like a nuisance, a problem to be 'got round' by employers and government.

"We need not only unity in the profession, but respect from the civil servants and the managers, an acknowledgement that we are all on the same side, striving for an excellent service for patients.

"My call to those who run the NHS and its organisations is: we are professionals, respect us as such. Show us trust and we will show you trust back.

"Allow us to treat patients as they should be treated and we will respect you for it."

Mr Moorthy will also attack moves to withdraw free accommodation for new medical graduates as effectively handing them a 20% pay cut.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We greatly value the key role of doctors and continue to work together on the 2008 recruitment round.

"We have learned crucial lessons from 2007. The governance of the MMC programme is much improved and simplified, we are having meaningful and constructive discussions with the medical profession and others involved, and we are adopting an evolutionary approach to change."


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